Lolita Brand Tea Parties
Many Lolita brands, such as Angelic Pretty and Baby, The Stars Shine Bright, host official tea parties of various sizes. If you want to participate, the first thing you need to check is the "dress code".
In most cases, it is required for the outfit to consist of products bought from the Lolita brand that sponsors the tea party. As there may be additional rules, it is important to check the dress code every time. Usually, only the main piece, meaning the dress or the skirt, needs to be from the brand in question, but making other parts of the outfit stand out more than the main brand piece should be avoided. If you're worried about whether your outfit fits the dress code, or don't want other participants to think you're wearing an unfitting brand, your best bet is to ask for the opinion of others.
In rare cases, it is required for the full outfit to consist of the sponsoring Lolita brand. Expectations may be made for shoes, as Lolita brands are aware that they don't cover a wide range of sizes for economical reasons. However, you need to avoid shoes that are not suitable for Lolita fashion, such as loafers and stiletto heels, as well as obvious replica products.
If you violate the dress code, you won't be allowed to enter the venue.
Tea Party Theme
Besides the dress code, tea parties often have a "theme", which the outfits must revolve around. The theme sometimes consists of wearing outfits with a specific color or motif, but usually it's related to seasonal events, such as Easter, Halloween, or Christmas. The theme of an event might not be obvious at first glance, so make sure to read everything carefully!
In general, manners shouldn't be a problem as long as you have common sense in regards to how to behave as an adult and a member of society. Don't be late, don't just stand around, don't speak badly of others (whether it be brands, shops or people), don't talk while eating, don't sit on the floor, don't harass other participants, etc.
While you should not use swear words, as it might come across as offensive, it's not required to talk overly politely. You need to consider that you're a stranger to most of the participants, meaning, they don't know how you intend your words to come across.
When having a conversation with someone you are just meeting for the first time, please don't assume that all Lolitas share the same interests. Some people aren't interested in anime and manga, many aren't fans of Visual Kei, and some don't even know the difference between a regular doll and a BJD. Don't judge others based on their appearance.
If you're shy and have trouble starting conversations, it is recommended to use nonverbal communication, such as nodding, rather than forcing yourself to talk with others.
Private Tea Parties
Besides the official brand ones, it's not uncommon for tea parties to be hosted by an individual or a local community. In such cases, you need to follow the dress code as specified by the organizer. Usually you are free to wear any brand you like, but the outfit still needs to be formal enough for the venue. If you have any questions, be sure to contact the organizer in a timely manner and not right before the event.
Unlike tea parties sponsored by Lolita brands, you need to pay attention to the rules of the venue. Please don't forget to consider that you aren't the only customer, and make sure that your outfit is toned-down enough to not bother others.